Athletics win Greenwich Cal Ripken championship

The Athletics of the Greenwich Cal Ripken Major League Eastern Division recently won the championship, defeating the Western Division champs Marlins. In the best-of-three championship series, the Athletics won a thrilling first game, 10-9, in eight innings and also came away with a 9-2 Game 2 victory to seal the championship.

The Athletics captured the Eastern Division regular season title with a 12-2 record, while the Marlins’ 10-3 regular season record earned them the Western Division regular season title.

The first game of Town Championship Series was held on June 23 at Teufel Field. The visiting Marlins jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, on a walk to Robert Lanni, a Nicky Henkel double and a towering triple to left-center field by Graham Pierce.

The Athletics countered immediately in their half of the first, when pitcher Cole Price was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on a Chris Loparco single. Loparco then stole second, advanced to third on a fly to center by Jake Beinstein and came home on a passed ball to tie the score at 2-2.

The Athletics took a 3-2 lead in their half of the second inning when James Scarlata walked, stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored on a Chris Nicolay groundout. The Athletics could have had a bigger inning, but a spectacular play by Marlins third baseman Sam Goldberg, who backhanded a Johnny Alexandre smash behind the bag and threw across the diamond to just nail Alexandre, in the first of many bang-bang plays that occurred during the game.

In the bottom of the third inning, the A’s took a commanding 7-3. Price walked and was followed with singles by Loparco, Beinstein, Ethan Pasquali and Nick Glass. With a runner on third and no outs, Graham Pierce came on to pitch for the Marlins, and retired three straight batters to avert further damage.

The Marlins stormed back in the top of the fifth inning, and grabbed an 8-7 lead, thanks to a Will Holey single, Lanni walk, an A’s error, singles by Danny Hupal, Pierce and Roger Velutini. The Marlins nearly added another run to their lead, as Velutini attempted to score from second on an infield groundout, but was gunned down by first baseman Ethan Pasquali’s throw to catcher Loparco, in another extremely close play.

The A’s threatened in their half of the fifth inning, and had runners on second and third with two outs when James Scarlata ripped a hard grounder over the bag at first, where it was knocked down by Pierce, who recovered the ball and scampered to touch first just ahead of Scarlata.

The Marlins carried their 8-7 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, and had ace Danny Hupal on the mound. The A’s Daniel Latto was able to work out a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball. With one out, Latto advanced to third on a groundout. With two outs, and down to his last strike, Cole Price was able to beat out a slow roller down the third-base line, as Latto scored the tying run.

After a Price steal of second, Loparco hit a groundball into the hole at shortstop, where it was backhanded by Nicky Henkel. Price, running on the pitch, rounded third and attempted to score the game-winning run. Henkel, with no chance to get the batter at first, alertly threw home, where catcher Robert Lanni made a terrific scoop and tag on Price, who was called out on yet another close play, sending the game into extra innings.

In the top of the seventh inning, Lanni walked, stole second and advanced to third on a single by Henkel. After a Henkel steal of second, Pierce was intentionally walked to load the bases. The Marlins took a 9-8 lead on a Roger Velutini single.

In the bottom half of the inning, with one out, the A’s Ethan Pasquali, after being down 0-2 in the count, was able to foul off a couple of tough pitches from Hupal, and ultimately worked out a walk. Pasquali stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Nick Glass then executed a perfect squeeze bunt, plating Pasquali, and tying the game at 9-9.

Price, back on the mound, was able to work a perfect top of the eighth inning. In the bottom half, Chris Nicolay walked with one out, stole second, and advanced to third base on an infield single by Pierce Ornstein. After an Ornstein steal of second, Price belted a long drive over the leftfielder’s head, sending Nicolay home with the winning run.

During the second game of the Town Championship Series, was played a day later at Teufel Field, the Athletics jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Cole Hartley reached on an error, stole second and third and came home on a booming triple to the center field fence by Beinstein, who then scored on an Pasquali single. After a steal of second, Pasquali advanced to third on a bunt single by Loparco, and scored on a Glass groundout.

Loparco would come around to score on successive wild pitches. James Scarlata followed with a triple down the left field line, but was left stranded at third.

The A’s added a run in the second and three runs in the third inning, to take an 8-0 lead. Several sparkling defensive plays by the Marlins prevented the A’s from adding more runs, with shortstop Lanni turning an Alexandre line drive into a double play, and leftfielder Jake Karetsky making a perfect throw to catcher Roger Velutini, nailing a runner attempting to score from third on a fly ball, for another double play. Nick Strati, the Marlin’s second baseman, also made several fine plays.

Cole Hartley, unable to play in Game 1 due to injury, was on the mound for the Athletics, and pitched effectively and efficiently. Through the first four innings, Hartley allowed only one hit, had thrown only 36 pitches and was helped in great part by fine defensive plays by shortstop Price, leftfielder John Petit and catcher Beinstein, who gunned down a runner attempting to steal.

Two Athletic miscues in the fifth inning led to a couple of runs for the Marlins, however two consecutive fine plays by second baseman Daniel Latto helped to keep more runs for the Marlins off the board.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Hartley was able to work around an A’s error, with the game ending on a popout to Latto, giving the Athletics the 2012 championship.

Both the Athletics and Marlins had didn’t breeze through the postseason, as they both suffered losses in their respective double-elimination division playoffs. The Athletics dropped a game to the Rockies, the defending town champions, and the Marlins lost to the Red Sox.

The Athletics’ loss to the Rockies forced the A’s into the Eastern Division loser’s bracket, where they defeated the Mets, 4-2, and then defeated the Rockies on successive nights to advance to the Town Finals.

The Marlins path to the Town Finals was slightly shorter, as the Marlins defeated the Giants in the Western Division winner’s bracket final. The Western Division loser’s bracket witnessed a terrific run by the Red Sox, which won three straight games to emerge from the loser’s bracket; the Red Sox then defeated the Marlins, setting up a winner-take-all Western Division final, which was captured by the Marlins, 9-3, advancing them to the Town Championship Series.

The Athletics were coached by Dave Loparco, and assistants Kyle Hartley and Gordon Beinstein, while the Marlins were coached by Steve Vlahovich, and assistants Mike Hupal and Peter Henkel.

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